Park and recreation agencies are critical providers of out-of-school time (OST) programs — taking care of children and giving parents an opportunity to earn a living. These programs provide education, tutoring, mentoring and enrichment opportunities that improve the mental, physical and emotional health of youth. More so, OST programs fill a critical need by providing healthy meals to children during out-of-school times. Many opportunities remain, however, for greater success by serving more children and expanding program offerings. Based on survey results from 396 park and recreation professionals, this study explores the scope and missions of out-of-school time programs, along with their greatest challenges and successes.
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Key Study Findings
- Out-of-school time programs serve children of all ages — although a majority are either elementary or middle school age— and of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
- Child care programs are a major area of emphasis for most out-of-school time programs, followed by athletic leagues, education and tutoring, and enrichment activities.
- Out-of-school time programs are a critical source of nutritious meals for children, especially at metropolitan/urban park and recreation agencies.
- The biggest challenges keeping out-of-school time programs from greater success and being able to serve more children are funding shortfalls, facility space shortages and inadequate staffing.
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Interactive Charts of Data Based on Agency Type